Firing Up The Forge

Building and maintaining coal and coke fires

Learning this skill was tough. I read every text I could find on the subject, but nothing spelled it out in a way I could get my mind around.

Now it’s my turn to attempt to provide you with a recipe you can use for a coal or coke forge. I hope you can get your mind around this one. I was finally taught by Frank Turley at his Turley Forge Blacksmithing school in Santa Fe, N.M. As with many of the tricks learned in this trade, there is no substitute for having an experienced instructor. 

Why Coal?

You may wonder (as many of my students do at first) why it is important in this modern day of propane forges to learn such an ancient skill. For my students, the answer is simple: You don’t graduate from my school without mastering it.

But for the modern farrier, the answer is going to be based on individual goals and preferences. If your goals include a trip to Calgary to take part in the World Championship Blacksmiths’ Compe­tition, then this skill is perhaps as important as your forging technique. Following is a list of the pros and cons of using a coal or coke forge.

The Pros

  • Hotter than gas
  • Able to accommodate larger pieces of work
  • Easy to build at home
  • Reduces scale buildup on metal
  • Provides a deeper and longer-lasting heat
  • Cheaper to run
  • Longer useful life of the forge

The Cons

  • Harder to learn to use properly
  • Not as…
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Chris_gregory

Chris Gregory

Chris Gregory is a Hall of Fame farrier and owner of Heartland Horseshoeing School in Lamar, Mo.

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